Seven Mile Beach resort Westin Casuarina has an opportunity to soar as a destination, according to new General Manager Morty Valldejuli.
The resort is undergoing a $9 million renovation, he told the Compass.
“[This] includes full guestroom refurbishment, demolition and reconstruction of the Westin entrance/circular driveway, lobby colour palate and case goods and all guestroom corridors.
“Refurbishment of our outdoor Tortuga Restaurant will include new kitchen equipment and outdoor sail umbrellas, grill and recondition finishes. We will re-open for dinner as well,” he said.
New Jersey-born, San Juan and Los Angeles-raised Mr. Valldejuli is also area managing director and brings almost 25 years experience of the industry to his new role.
“It’s the difference between a great leader versus a mediocre one. If you call me and you catch me in my office, I’m not working,” he said. “I am always on the floor, the pool, the beach, the restaurant, the parking lot saying hello to the cabbies, inspecting what I am expecting – it’s the only way I know how.”
He added that he rated the beach and beachfront “the best on the island” and praised the beach and pool general manager, staff and beach ambassadors for their work in assisting in providing guests with an excellent experience. He said that it was vital to attract the best employees possible to the resort.
The new general manager said that there were challenges but these were not unique to the Westin Casuarina, or, indeed, the Cayman Islands.
“[We must] ensure we have an excellent partnership with our airlift – Jet Blue is now beginning to provide nonstop flights from Boston and JFK. We need more of this – people need to get here and we need to make it easy and affordable. Also, there is the issue with the probability of increasing hotel tax – this would be difficult to compete with other islands.
“The economic outlook for Cayman is looking very positive – in fact this last quarter our industry has shown a 10 per cent increase in hotel net operating income and that’s great in these tough economic times,” he said.
Mr. Valldejuli arrived at his new role following two years as area managing director and general manager for Pyramid Hotel Group properties in the Greater New Orleans area. Among his assignments were Maison Dupuy Hotel and Marriott Hotel Lakeway. During his tenure, Marriott Hotel Lakeway was honoured with a AAA Four Diamond Award in 2011, while Maison Dupuy Hotel was voted 2011 Best Boutique Hotel in New Orleans by National Geographic Traveler, and won Best 2011 Urban Escape in New Orleans from Fodor’s Choice Golf Award.
Previously, Mr. Valldejuli held the dual role of chief operating officer and general manager of River Ranch Hospitality, a division of River Ranch Development in Lafayette, Louisiana. Prior to that, he was area general manager of New Orleans Fine Hotels Corp., an independent, privately owned hotel group that managed and owned 12 boutique hotels.